S2E8: Techno-Thrillers

S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview A Reader's History of Science Fiction

In this episode, I interview Gary Bengier, former CFO of eBay and author of Unfettered Journey, a novel about philosophy and artificial intelligence. Gary's book recommendation: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  1. S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview
  2. S2E12: Catch-Up Episode #5: DC Movies
  3. S2E11: Nick Nocturne Discusses Unfiction
  4. S2E10: Interview: Brown and Hansen on Stephen King
  5. S2E9: Catch-Up Episode #4: Horror

Techno-thrillers are a surprisingly fuzzy category that sits at the border of sci-fi and suspense. In this episode, I give an overview of the subgenre and the different ways it can be classified.

Book recommendation: Delta-v by Daniel Suarez

Sam Boush on the categories of techno-thrillers.
My review of Delta-v.

Other books discussed:
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

Check out this episode!

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Book Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

I mentioned The Kaiju Preservation Society in Episode 4 of this season of my podcast as one of the hot new sci-fi books of this year and a rare serious literary treatment of the giant monster trope. This is the latest book of John Scalzi, also known for Old Man’s War and Redshirts. I have since actually read the book, and…I think it was a lot of fun.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Spoilers below.

Continue reading
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S2E7: Catch-Up Episode #3: Marvel Movies

S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview A Reader's History of Science Fiction

In this episode, I interview Gary Bengier, former CFO of eBay and author of Unfettered Journey, a novel about philosophy and artificial intelligence. Gary's book recommendation: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  1. S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview
  2. S2E12: Catch-Up Episode #5: DC Movies
  3. S2E11: Nick Nocturne Discusses Unfiction
  4. S2E10: Interview: Brown and Hansen on Stephen King
  5. S2E9: Catch-Up Episode #4: Horror

As part of my catch-up series, I review the Marvel movies that have come out since the start of the pandemic.

Movie recommendation: The New Mutants.
(I really think it’s underrated.)

Check out this episode!

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New Video: What Is the Longest Word in English?

The answer is probably not what you think. There are plenty of examples of “longest words” in various dictionaries, but most of them are curiosities that no one uses in real life. I’m looking for the longest words that are productive members of linguistic society, and that search went in some surprising directions.

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S2E6: Anime Science Fiction

S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview A Reader's History of Science Fiction

In this episode, I interview Gary Bengier, former CFO of eBay and author of Unfettered Journey, a novel about philosophy and artificial intelligence. Gary's book recommendation: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  1. S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview
  2. S2E12: Catch-Up Episode #5: DC Movies
  3. S2E11: Nick Nocturne Discusses Unfiction
  4. S2E10: Interview: Brown and Hansen on Stephen King
  5. S2E9: Catch-Up Episode #4: Horror

Experimenting with a new format, my friend Greg and I have a conversation about anime and its place in the science fiction genre.

TV recommendation: Cowboy Bebop
Movie recommendation: Castle in the Sky: Laputa

Check out this episode!

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New Video: Radix Economy

This is my entry for the 2nd Summer of Math Exposition contest.

Radix economy is often billed as a measure of which number base is most “efficient,” but its answer that base-3 is the best suggests there’s probably something else going on. In this video, I explain what radix economy is actually used for and when its use is not really justified.

In a future video, I’ll talk about what makes a base good in natural language.

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S2E5: Paul Frommer Interview

S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview A Reader's History of Science Fiction

In this episode, I interview Gary Bengier, former CFO of eBay and author of Unfettered Journey, a novel about philosophy and artificial intelligence. Gary's book recommendation: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  1. S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview
  2. S2E12: Catch-Up Episode #5: DC Movies
  3. S2E11: Nick Nocturne Discusses Unfiction
  4. S2E10: Interview: Brown and Hansen on Stephen King
  5. S2E9: Catch-Up Episode #4: Horror

I interview Dr. Paul Frommer, the creator of the Na’vi language from Avatar as well as Barsoomian from Disney’s John Carter.

Prospective movie recommendation: Avatar: The Way of Water

Dr. Frommer’s blog.

Check out this episode!

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S2E4: Catch-Up Episode #2: Monster Movies

In this second catch-up episode, I talk about the most recent monster movies (and one novel) to come out and their place in science fiction as a whole.

Movie recommendation: Love and Monsters

My YouTube video on the physics of giant monsters.

Other works discussed:
The Color out of Space (2019)
Underwater (2020)
Godzilla vs. Kong
Jurassic World Dominion
Monster Hunter
 (2020)
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Check out this episode!

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Follow-Up: Languages Mentioned in S2E3

In this week’s episode of A Reader’s History of Science Fiction, I talked about constructed languages, or conlangs. I listed the major ones I discussed in the description, but there were many more that I mentioned in passing, which I didn’t have space to list. So, as I’ve done a couple times before, I’m following up here with a complete list.

Lingua Ignota (St. Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century)
Dovahzul (Adam Adamowicz, Skyrim)
Lojban (The Logical Language Group, 1987)
Esperanto (L. L. Zamenhof, 1887)
Barsoomian (Edgar Rice Burroughs / Paul Frommer, John Carter of Mars)
Quenya (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)
Sindarin (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)
Old Solar (C. S. Lewis, The Space Trilogy)
Newspeak (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four) Previously recommended.
Nadsat (Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange)
Martian (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)
Heptapod (Ted Chiang, “Story of Your Life”)
Babel-17 (Samuel R. Delaney, Babel-17)
Pravic (Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed) Previously recommended.
Ascian (Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun)
Tamarian (Joe Menosky, Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Darmok”)
Speedtalk (Robert A. Heinlein, Gulf)
Tnuctipun (Larry Niven, World of Ptaavs)
Trinary (David Brin, Startide Rising)
Ruanja (Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow)
Láadan (Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue)
Klingon (Marc Okrand, Star Trek)
Atlanean (Marc Okrand, Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
Na’vi (Paul Frommer, Avatar)
Beama (Christine Schreyer, Alpha)
Dothraki (David J. Peterson, Game of Thrones)
Kastithanu, L’Irathi, Indojisnen, and Kinuk’aaz (David J. Peterson, Defiance) Recommended.

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S2E3: Constructed Languages in Science Fiction

S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview A Reader's History of Science Fiction

In this episode, I interview Gary Bengier, former CFO of eBay and author of Unfettered Journey, a novel about philosophy and artificial intelligence. Gary's book recommendation: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  1. S2E13: Gary Bengier Interview
  2. S2E12: Catch-Up Episode #5: DC Movies
  3. S2E11: Nick Nocturne Discusses Unfiction
  4. S2E10: Interview: Brown and Hansen on Stephen King
  5. S2E9: Catch-Up Episode #4: Horror

Science fiction frequently plays with language in different ways to explore the concepts of philosophy, culture, and cognition; and constructed languages (or conlangs) are a big part of that. In this episode, I highlight how conlangs have contributed to the genre over its history.

TV recommendation: Defiance (Kastithanu, L’Irathi, Indojisnen, and Kinuk’aaz, by David J. Peterson)

My blog posts about language in Creationism.
jan Misali’s Conlang Critic playlist.

Other languages discussed:
Newspeak (Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell)
Láadan (Native Tongue, by Suzette Elgin)
Klingon (Star Trek, by Marc Okrand)
Na’vi (Avatar, by Paul Frommer)

Check out this episode!

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